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Babouins qui s'épouillent © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Guinea Baboon

The Guinea Baboon, Papio papio, lives in the African savannah. It spends most of its time on the ground. It can travel up to 8 km on its four legs and only climbs up big trees to sleep.


Class, order & family :

Mammalia, Primates, Cercopithecidae

Genus :


Species :


Lifespan :

35 years

Height and weight :

80 cm long; 40 kg at the most

Gestation :

6 months, one baby

Natural habitat :

wooded savannah

Diet :

roots, tubers, fruit, small mammals, invertebrates, etc.

Native region :

West Africa (Guinea, Senegal, Gambia)

Conservation programme :


IUCN status: 

NT, near threatened

Way of life

Guinea baboons spend the night in groups of 40 to 100 individuals, hidden from predators, in the trees or on rocky ridges. During the day, they split up into small groups (harems) and go down to the ground to search for food. They readily feed in the fields and are often hunted or poisoned by farmers. In addition to a wide repertoire of calls, they also communicate with each other through blinking their eyes, ear and lip movements, yawning and staring... Grooming, in addition to its “cleaning” function, also helps to strengthen emotional bonds between baboons. The more they like each other, the more they groom each other, to the point of forming grooming groups.

A very strict hierarchy governs the groups. A male leads a harem of 1 to 4 females and their offspring and he himself has a rank amongst the various males. Extremely complex social interactions can thus be observed in group gatherings. A young female may remain in the clan and then later take the social role of her mother. Once sexually mature, a male leaves his parents to join another group.

Distinguishing features

Of the five species of baboon, the Guinea Baboon is the smallest. Its black and hairless face is elongated like a dog's muzzle. The male is much larger and taller than the female and has long canines that can measure up to 5 cm. Its fur is denser and thicker than that of the female, particularly on the neck and shoulders.

Baboons’ buttocks are bare and calloused and females’ buttocks become red and swollen during the breeding season, indicating to the male that it is time to mate!


The baboons at the Haute-Touche Animal Reserve are among the last remaining baboons from Casamance in southern Senegal. They readily feed on seeds and roots, representing a menace to cultivated fields, and they are therefore hunted by the farmers whose plantations they damage.

The founding members of this group come from a larger group from the Parc zoologique de Paris (Zoological Park of Paris). A behaviour study which used very rigorous selection criteria and was based on the intensity of social ties within grooming groups meant that a socially stable group could be put together at Haute Touche without disrupting the original structure.

Baboons reproduce very well in zoos and, in order to avoid a high rate of interbreeding, an international list of all of the individuals and their relatives is kept up to date.

Babouins qui s'épouillent © MNHN - P. Roux
Babouins de Guinées © G. Proust
Babouins de Guinée © MNHN - P. Roux
Babouins qui s'épouillent © MNHN - F-G Grandin